October to December Concerts

The final show, on 18 December, was the Firehose 1 Dixieland
Jazz Band.   They set the room on fire
with their fire-fighting uniform and music.
Dave Leighead led on trumpet with Dave Dixon on reeds, Richard Slater on
trombone and sousaphone, Peter “Pedro” Robinson on banjo and guitar,
Denis Goodwin on drums and Malcolm Hogarth on keyboard.

Following the first half of the concert there was a presentation
when the Member of the Year Award was passed by holder for 2016, Gill Dodd, to
elected member, Joan Latham, who will be Member of the Year for 2017.  Congratulations to Joan.

Thanks from the entire SJS are going to Shirley Ollier for
the beautiful Christmas table decorations.  
The room looked lovely with little candle lights twinkling set on
festive tables with red and green napkins.

The penultimate concert in 2016 was by JB Jazz & Blues
Band.   The band, with the addition of Ed
Miller who replaced Mark Howell who sadly died earlier in the year, brought
with it the “feel good” factor always associated with this band.  Other members of the band were John Beckingham
on keyboard, Roger Mainwaring and Andy Loverage on reeds, Phil Probert on
guitar and banjo and Paul Holder on drums.

(Photo pending)

The beginning of December saw Matt Palmer’s Millennium Eagle
Jazz Band.  This band always receives a
consistently high rating from SJS members.
The all star line-up was welcomed with Matt Palmer lead virtuoso
reedsman, Terry Williams on the trombone, Pete Brown playing trumpet &
valve trombone, Baby Jools on drums, Brian Lawrence on double bass and Brian
Mellor on banjo.

Chris Carmell’s Vintage Jazzmen came on 20 November.  Especially remembered at this concert was the
late and greatly missed Clinton Sedgley.
Sadly I had no camera with me on this day and so no photograph was
taken.  I promise to do better!

At the end of November we had Chris Pearce & Andy
Leggett’s Sopranos.  This was a
marvellous programme by a marvellous band.
They have acquired a new trombonist, explaining that they needed a
younger person to do all the lifting and carrying!!  I was particularly taken with a number called
‘In My Darkest Hour’, something slightly outside the general repertoire and a
surprisingly cheerful number, given the title.

On 13 November we had Ron Hills’ Swing Kings with Ron Hills
on trombone, Tony Pipkin on trumpet and flugelhorn, Roger Heely, piano, Terry
Roberts on reeds with Roy Dutton on drums, Denis Mowatt on bass and again we
welcomed young Richard Hughes on keyboard.
These are seriously good musicians and the band was well received at the
White Eagle Club.

The start of November saw Kevin Grenfell’s Jazz Giants.   They played snappy, catchy music from the
start but followed by a range of compositions.
Richard Hughes was a welcome addition on keyboard.  I was once told to keep a close eye on the
keyboard player as only very accomplished musicians used both hands, and this
young man’s hands were everywhere.  The
rest of the band consisted of Kevin Grenfell on trumpet and trombone, Matt
Palmer on reeds, Baby Jools on drums and Wayne Elliott on base guitar.

The last concert in October was Carole Westwood’s
Sophisticated Swing.  We have not seen
Carole for some time as she has been over in Australia.  Carole, as always, was in good voice and we
are pleased she is back in England.   The
music was varied but always with a beat to it.
Some fabulous numbers were played by the Band, including Caravan and (my
favourite!) My Baby Just Cares for Me.
There was John Evans on keyboard, Terry Roberts on saxes and Roger
Armstrong on drums.

On 23 October the SJS welcomed back the Chicago Teddybears
Society Jazz Band to help celebrate the SJS Anniversary.   What a cracking good band this is and the
crowd that turned out spoke for itself.
Heads were nodding, feet were tapping and all enjoyed the music played
by this band of high class musicians.
Come back soon we all say.

September-October Concerts

16 October –
Sussex Jazz Kings

This group was well received and it’s New Orleans-style jazz
in a range of styles went down well.  The
band consisted of Dave Stradwick on cornet, Bernard Stuit on clarinet, Iain
McAulay on trombone, Pete Lay on drugs, Phil Durell on banjo and Peter Clancy
on double bass and sousaphone.  A
beautiful sound – we hope it’s not too long before they are back with us.

9 October – Fret
& Fiddle present “Grappelli Swing”

What can I say!  One
of the best concerts this year.  Fret
& Fiddle have expanded to include a drummer (Steve Street) and a keyboard
player (Rich Hughes), taking the total of the group to five.  Saline, such a talented violinist, narrated
the story of Grappelli’s life, his involvement and long-time work with Django
Reinhardt, and played his music through the decades.  The whole show was informative, the music a
delight and intense, and I hope we see them again soon.

2 October – Spats
Langham’s Hot Fingers Jazz Band

Something happened at tonight’s concert.  Three musicians melted our hearts with a mix
of music from the 20s and 30s, music moreover not routinely heard.  Miss Emily Campbell, vocalist, with the
nickname of ‘The Cotswold Canary’, joined in.
Spats talked knowledgeably about the music the trio played so, like Fret
& Fiddle the show was also educational.
Malcolm Sked played tuba and double bass and Daniel Blythe was
multi-instrumental – indeed playing one of my own personal favourites which is
the harmonica.

During the interval of this show Chris and Joan Latham
presented Spats with his award, Musician of the Year, which he gained at the
last concert in May 2016.

25 September –
Brian Carrick’s Algiers Stompers

Listening to this band it was all too easy to imagine
yourself in a dance hall in New Orleans in the first half of the 20th
century.  Brian Carrick, as always,
supplied a steady stream of humour.  It
should be noted that he played on the clarinet6 formerly owned by George
Lewis.  Along with Brian were Peter
Wright (trumpet), Chas Hudson (trombone), ‘Mac’ MacDonald (banjo, Andrew Hall
(piano), Bill Cole (bass) and Ray Bowden (drums).  What a night!

18 September – Old
Fashioned Love Band

Again a blast of harmonica (is it catching on again I
wonder?) from Bill Smith who also played the trumpet and sang. Mike Pemberton
was on the trombone, Jake Reeves on banjo and guitar, Harri Forelius on double
bass and Moe Green on drums.  How does
Nick Balmforth do it as we listen to one stunning performance after another.

11 September –
Tame Valley Stompers

Sadly I missed this one due to being in Southport to hear
the Pasadena Roof Orchestra (and yes they were fabulous) and accompanying
bands.  However everyone I have spoken to
have said that the Stompers were as on form as ever.  Sorry Terry (trombone), Roger (trumpet), Paul
(reeds), Pete (bass guitar), John (banjo and guitar) and Norman on drums.  However I am sure you will be back and I will
make sure I am around for that gig.

4 September –
Phoenix Jazzmen with Sheila Fawkes

This was a smashing start to the new season for Stafford
Jazz Society.  With drummer Ken Wright on
holiday we had Andy Lowe in his place.
Sheila Fawkes was in fine voice and as in the past we all enjoyed her
singing.  Pete Robinson told a beautiful
story about the first time China Boy was played.  A Chinese man took offence and reported the
player to the police for racial abuse.
The police arrested the banjo player … in a Chinese restaurant!!  Fortunately common sense prevailed and no
further action was taken.  It is these
little reminiscences which make sessions so enjoyable.

Sorry there are no pictures for September folks – I thought
I had taken some but … early senility?!?!

Concerts in April and May

29
May – Jeff & Anne Barnhart with
Thomas “Spats” Langham and Graham Smith in ‘Ragtime, Swing, Blues and
Beyond
.  As last concerts go this
went with a crash, bang, wallop.   It was
a mixed bag with jazz from the 20s up , classical music and gospel music.  There were several numbers that very few
people had heard before and there is always joy in listening to something for
the first time.  The room was packed and
the audience highly appreciative.  I
might say that this is the only group we have had who got a standing ovation at
the end of the first set … and that is saying something.   Musicians were Anne Barnhart on flute, Jeff
Barnhart on piano, Graham Smith on the d4rums and Thomas “Spats”
Langham on banjo and guitar.

22
May saw the Merseysippi Jazz Band,
who last came to SJS in June 1966 when we were based at the Gatehouse.  The musicians were:  John Higham, Malcolm Hogarth, Pete Fryer,
Dave Dixon, Pete Darwin, Derek Vaux and Dave Rigby.  There was one number entitled ‘Wocka the
Fish’, which was enchanting, and another number about a chap who was with a
large 20 stone girl and would draw chalk marks to show where he had come from
and these crossed paths with a chap with a larger than life girlfriend coming
the other way!  You couldn’t make it
up.   Such an enjoyable concert.

15
May – Stafford Grammar School Big
Band
(part of the Stafford Music Festival).  This was their first appearance at Stafford
Jazz Society but with a reputation that preceded them following their highly
acclaimed performances at last year’s Stafford Music Festival and the Upton Jazz
Festival.  Quite how successful they were
is reflected by the fact that they were chosen as Band of the Year!

8
May – Swingin’ Jim’s Dance Band
gave us a high performance, as always in the past, with a couple of new arrangements
thrown in for good measure.  They are
always assured of a warm welcome at SJS.

1
May – Tame Valley Stompers – Terry’s Dead Good Boys.   Repertoire included songs from films from
the early 1930s, most of which were instantly recognisable.   Terry played ‘Wonderful World’ on the
trombone, which was really special.

Chicago Swing Katz made an appearance on 24 April.
From blues to boogie, this group really knows how to appeal across the board.   The banter gave an intimate feel to the
whole show.   I applaud Derek Harris for
sporting red braces to match his (and the rest of the band’s) red tie.   There were Pete Ainge on trumpet, Mike
Blakesley on trombone, Dave Margaroni on bass, Mike Carney on forurns, Derek
Harrison on keyboard and vocals and Geoff Matthews on reeds.

Steve King Big Band visited on 17 April.  This
band was so professional both in performance and in appearance.   As a treat Steve King played on his trumpet
for ‘Georgia On My Mind’ and Lynn Dawes gave some fine renditions, my favourite
being ‘Hard Hearted Hannah’.  Starting
the second set ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ was lead into the full number with just the
vocalist singing and the double bass providing the beat – just beautiful.

on
10 April we welcomed Matt Palmer’s
Rhythmic Reeds with Christine Tyrrell.

Considering this band has only been in existence for a year it works
wonderfully well.  The audience were
jumpting in their seats with heads bobbing and feet tapping – always a good
indicator of a band being well received.  
The musicians were Mark Challinor on banjo, Jim Switherton on double
bass, Nick Ward on drums, George Huxley on reeds and Matt Palmer on reeds.   Christine Tyrrell gave us some great songs –
she is always a favourite with us.

3
April saw Pete Allen’s Reeds ‘n’
Rhythms
.  What a pleasure to
welcome three talented musicians.   They
played music garnered mainly from the 20s and 30s, including ragtime.  It is easy to get the decades muddled up as
most of the really good tunes have been recycled again and again so seem so
familiar to us.

Second Half of the Season

How lovely it was to start the second half
of the season with a band as good as Robin Mason’s Apex Jazz & Swing
Band.   After weeks of jazz starvation
this was the equivalent of gourmet fine dining.
The mix of jazz and swing works so well and from where I sat I saw heads
nodding and shoulders swinging.

The opening number of ‘You are my Sunshine’
was an inspired choice for the Chase Jazzmen with snow and ice outside.  The selection throughout the programme was
good and the tempo ranged through fast, bosa nova to slow.  The band was well received.

Jazz Buddies with Arthur Brown and Matt
Palmer gave a first-class performance on 24 January with a good mix of music to
make your toes tap.  The musicians played
smoothly together.  I would like to
especially mention the trombonist, Mike Owen, who was so good.  Singing was undertaken in the main by Matt
Palmer (reeds) with his usual style.  A
rhythym section consisting of Brian Mellor, Dennis Mowatt and Tim Jones
completed the band.

On 31 January it was the turn of Bear Town
Stompers.  This band was originally
formed to play in a Jazz & Blues Festival but is now a well established
band performing easy-going, traditional jazz.
I thought from time to time it had a gentle quality to the music which
is so often missing.  Long time member,
Jill Dodds, presented the SJS Musician of the Year Trophy to Peter ‘Pedro’
Robinson at the conclusion of the first half.

February 7th saw our first visit by Jake
Leg Jug Band with Mike Pemberton (trombone).
Neil Hulse played guitar and offered up vocal renditions, Esther Brennan
on washboard and ukelele also sang, and there were Toby Wilson on banjo and
dobro and Duncan Wilcox on double bass, all joining in with the vocals.  Now this was something different … not only a
band comprising fairly young musicians but with a distinct southern
influence.  It was a real treat for the
ears with a refreshingly different repertoire.

The Old Fashioned Love Band visited again
on 14 February.  As always the band
played with such verve and musicality they were the joy we have all come to
expect.   Their music was a wide range of
foot-taping jazz standards and the band featured, Mike Pemberton, Harry
Forelius, Jake Reeves and Mo Green.
Wonderful.

Annie Hawkins Funky Butt Hall Jazzband made
a welcome appearance on 21 February.
Annie brought with her an all-star band to match her smiling
talents.  The band consisted of Michael
Hogarth on piano, Bob Rowbotham on banjo, Barry Wood on Drums, Liz Bacon on
clarinet, Pete Wright on cornet and Jeff Milner on trombone.  As always this concert was well received.

Last concert in February saw the Frog
Island Jazz Band with us.  This band
plays classic and authentic New Orleans-style music from the 1920s and
1930s.  The band has been awarded the
accolade ‘International Honorary Citizens of New Orleans’ and when you hear
them you understand why.

March’s first concert was Matt Palmer’s
Millennium Eagle Jazz Band.  This band continually
attracts high ratings and Stafford SJS are always pleased to see them.  Baby Jools on drums was a treat, as was Brian
Lawrence on double bass and sousaphone, Pete Brown on cornet, Terry Williams on
trombone and Brian Mellor on banjo.  Many
smiling faces left the club at the end of this show.

On 13 March there was an appearance by The
Sopranos, featuring Chris Pearce and Andy Leggett.  This band has recently been formed by these
two top reedsmen.  The rest of the band
consisted of Dave Deakin on trombone, Ken Wright on drums, Tony Sharpe on
double bass and Phil Probert on Guitar.
Best summed up as easy listening by such competent musicians.

Last week was the turn of Wabash
Jazzmen.  With Mike Challinor on banjo
& guitar, Mike Pemberton on trombone, Mike Hayler on reeds, Richard Vernon
on string bass and Pete Ange on trumpet this band gave a performance to knock
your socks off.  Come back soon, please.

The are jazzmen who blow

And others who bash

They do it for bucks

And they do it for cash.

They love the applause

And the moments of glory

But sometimes forget

The whole point of the story.

It’s the music that matters

And the good folk who strive

Without praise, without profit

To keep it alive.

So let’s drink a toast

‘May the god of jazz bless

My friend Mr Balmforth

And the old SJS’.

A poetic message
to Stafford Jazz Society

from the Society’s President

Band Leader and Jazz Broadcaster

Mel Hill

2015 in pictures

On 25 October we had another chance to see
and hear the Chicago Teddybears Society Jazz Band.  Despite roadworks on the road approaching the
White Eagle Club, nothing stopped the audience from pouring in for this
concert.   Not surprisingly they were the
winner of the Band of the year Trophy Award, and were presentd with their
awards by Jenni and Ian D’Arcy.

1st November gave us Baby Jools & The
Jazzaholics.   There was an exciting
programme of music with good pace.   Baby
Jools is a virtuoso drummer and a bright star in New Orleans style jazz in the
UK.   The fact that this was an evening
programme might account for a smaller than anticipated audience.  However those of us present enjoyed a super
night of jazz.

Brian Carrick’s Algiers Stompers played on
8 November.  This is a fine bunch of
musicians and Brian Carrick not only plays the sax but has a pretty good voice
too.

The talented Matt Palmer was with us once
more on 15 November with his Aces of Rhythm.
This group specialised in reviving jazz from the 1920s and so brings
little known music to a modern audience.

22 November gave us Ron Hills’ Swing Kings with
Terry Roberts on reeds, Roger Heeley on keyboard, Roy Dutton on drums, Denis
Mowatt on double bass, Dave Leithead on trumpet and Ron Hills on trombone.  Just in case you were wondering, the little
white ghost centre stage is Roy Dutton!

Sadly I missed the JB Jazz & Blues Band
on 29 November,due to another commitment on the same day.  Groan!
They are such a good band and give a wonderful performance.  Which leads us into December.  On 6th we had the Phoenix Jazzmen with Sheila
Fawkes.  My word can that little lady
sing.  She has one of the best jazz
voices around.  See picture below.

The last band of the year, on 6 December,
was Bev Pegg & His Good Time Jazz Gang.
Again sadly I missed this so cannot report on it from my own personal
view.  However I understand that they
went down a storm.

My final picture of the year shows  Gill Dodds being presented with the SJS
Member of the Year Trophy.   Jill has
been coming to the jazz for a long time.
This year health problems meant that she had to miss quite a few
shows.   I am delighted to report she has
made a good recovery and was so surprised and delighted to be nominated for the
Award.   Seen hers presenting the trophy
is our Vice-Chairman and Membership Secretary, Shirley Ollier.

We will be back for the first gig on 10
January with Robin Mason’s Apex Jazz & Swing Band.  Looking forward to it already.

Cruising on the Rhine…

20 members of our Club spent a wonderful week in
Germany cruising on the Rhine and Moselle with the J&B Jazz and Blues Band.
Lovely autumn weather, magical scenery and an atmosphere that got everybody
dancing night after night made our week on the ship to a delightful experience.

Plans for a follow up next year were immediately
voiced.

If you are interested please contact Veronica
(v.kothbauer@gmail.com)